Proud, Beautiful People

Once the dragon boat season got going, it feels like it’s flown by faster than a dragon boat race. But here we are at the end of the racing year with only three events remaining. It’s been a very rushed, busy and fun spring and summer filled with new and existing events that have been incredibly successful. More than $250,000 has been raised for charity and thousands have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The last two races have been big fun in two different great cities.

On August 13, we supplied boats, race production and staff for the Gateway Dragon Boat Festival in St. Louis. We drove through a highway just blocks from the Arch during our drive to the hotel and venue. Paddlers from the 25 teams participating were fun and competitive. The losing team from the year before had to wear pink shirts on race day this year in a two-team rivalry/smash talk session on the water. The losing team from this year promised to take the other team out for steak dinner this time. But this year a different team beat them both – Y-Knot from Monroe County, Illinois.

From St. Louis to Nashville, where we finished racing on August 20 in 100-degree heat by 1:30 p.m. Central Standard Time and had eight boats, equipment and gear loaded by 4:30. But before that, we raced 35 very fun corporate and community festival teams.  Everyone had a blast and can’t wait to return to the Music City. The Nashville Rugby Club took the Grand Champion prize and everyone won on the water – as usual!

The St. Louis and Nashville events went smoothly because the race organizers were experienced and prepared. We also had an incredible officiating and steering staff for both events, including my husband who coached all week in St. Louis, and in Nashville. In both cities, paddlers I steered for on race day told me that he said to them, “You’re proud, beautiful people.” He tells every team he coaches that. He tells me that. Some paddlers ask him if he does wake up calls, too. He probably would. It’s all about boasting their confidence, of course. Coaching positive and keeping people excited is easy with such a great sport. We have fun with it, as well. The saying is so catchy that in Nashville, when the teams were lining up at the start line, a team next to me in Lane 2 started chanting loudly in short, choppy bursts, “Proud, beautiful people; proud, beautiful people; proud, beautiful people” over and over again. After a few times, someone in the boat I was steering said, “Hey, he said that to us, too!” I laughed and said, “He tells everyone that. But you are proud, beautiful people. He’s right.”

He is right.

Another nice thing about these two races – from the volunteers to the spectators, people were cheering for each other for a job well done. Teams were shouting, “Hip, hip, hooray” for each other. That is a beautiful thing.